Running Warm Up

Attention Runners! Are you Warming Up Properly? 

Running is a wonderful sport that has many health benefits. Above all, running is a physical activity that requires a warm up. However, running naturally results in increased impact through the ankles, knees, hips and spine. The ground reaction forces are approximately 2-3 times your body weight while running (compared to 1-1.5 times your body weight while walking). The good news is that our bodies are designed to absorb those forces, but only if we are properly prepared. For example, on our Youtube channel we provide plenty of exercises to help!

The the popular Runner’s World Magazine conducted a poll. As a result, researchers found that 75% of recreational runners forego a proper warm up prior to running. This may be one of the reasons why some runners are prone to injury. One of the best ways to reduce the risk for injury, is to perform a running specific dynamic warm up. 

What is a Running Specific Dynamic Warm Up? 

This type of warm up consists of functional and sport specific movements that prepare your body for activity. A running specific dynamic warm up includes muscle activation, joint mobility, range of motion, and functional movements that resemble the requirements of running. A dynamic warm up does not include static stretching. Moreover, you should perform static stretching with longer duration holds after a workout. To clarify, you should static stretch when the muscles are loose and warmed up. In addition, research shows that holding a static stretch longer than 45 seconds immediately prior to performance can have negative effects. As a result, this affects strength, power, muscular explosive performance, balance, and agility. In conclusion, the benefits of a dynamic warm up strongly outweigh the effects of static stretching prior to running.

For Example, Dynamic Warm Up Benefits Include: 

  • Blood and oxygen circulation to muscles 
  • Increased core body temperature  
  • Muscle activation
  • Muscle extensibility 
  • Joint mobility 
  • Neuromuscular activity 
  • Reduced risk for injury 

Dynamic Warm Up for Runners 

  • Duration: 5-7 minutes 
  • Goal: prepare joints and muscles, activate nervous system, increase heart rate, increase core temperature (a good warm up should make you sweat!) 
  • To clarify, perform each dynamic movement on alternating sides while progressing forward (approximately 50 feet), then jog back to the starting position

Firstly, Walking Gluteal Pull

Running Warm Up

Secondly, Walking Quadriceps Pull

Running Warm Up

Third, Walking Lunge Reach 

Running Warm Up

Fourth, Walking Lunge Twist

Running Warm Up

Next, Butt Kick/High Knees

Running Warm Up
Running Warm Up

Lastly, Power Skip 

Running Warm Up

Are you in pain?

If you have pain or feel stiff when you run, our physical therapists can help! Physical therapists are the only movement experts in the healthcare system, therefore, we have the knowledge and clinical reasoning required to determine the root cause of your pain. Similarly, at Symmetry Physical Therapy we can conduct a comprehensive biomechanical and movement assessment. In conclusion, if you would like to speak with a Doctor of Physical Therapy for a complimentary phone consultation please contact us.

Happy Running! 


Behm D, Chaouachi A. A review of the acute effects of static and dynamic stretching on performance. European journal of applied physiology. 2011;111;11;2633-2651

Nilsson, J., and A. Thorstensson. “Ground Reaction Forces at Different Speeds of Human Walking and Running.” Acta Physiologica Scandinavica, vol. 136, no. 2, 1989, pp. 217–227., doi:10.1111/j.1748-1716.1989.tb08655.x

Thacker S, Gilchrist J, Stroud D, Kimsey C. The Impact of Stretching on Sports Injury Risk: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc. 2004;36;3;371-378

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